Earlier this year it was confirmed that the full go-ahead had been given for the restoration of Blackpool Brush Car 298 at the Crich Tramway Village and now as the project comes close to a physical start it had been announced that a new underframe for the tram is to be constructed by the Ffestiniog and West Highland Railway as the two organisations come together.
298 was withdrawn from service in Blackpool way back in 1972 requiring a fill body overhaul but at the time it was decided the tram was surplus to requirement so this never happened and it was sold on to Keith Terry four years later with the Blackpool Railcoach Fund set-up to take on its full restoration. Whilst some restoration work has taken place over the years at various locations the underframe has not any significant work and as part of the preparations for the return of the tram it was decided that a new one would need to be fabricated.
Tenders were requested for the construction of this new underframe and after their review it has been decided to go with the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway with the funding for this still coming from the Blackpool Railcoach Fund and the Tramcar Sponsorship Organisation.
Project Leader of the restoration at Crich, Peter Whiteley, said: “One of the main reasons we chose The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway to help with this restoration is that the underframe has a lot of rivets in it, and specialist skills are required for both riveted and welded fabrications. In addition, the drawing and steel sections are imperial, and we needed a company which could convert the sections to metric, without loss of structural integrity, but still meet the requirements of fitting an imperial dimensioned wooden body frame to it. It also ‘felt right’ awarding the work to a fellow heritage operator in these difficult times with Covid-19”.
298 is currently at the Tramway Museum Society’s Clay Cross store but is due to be moved back to Crich in the new year when the work can really start in earnest.
Paul Lewin, Director and General Manager at the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway, said: “We are delighted to work with the National Tramway Museum on this project and to be associated with another heritage organisation. During the current pandemic, it provides a great opportunity to keep our skilled team fully occupied in the coming months. It is always a pleasure to work with the highly committed team at Crich.
This won’t be the first tram to see the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway of course as Glasgow 488 has been present for several years for restoration work ahead of its move to the East Anglia Transport Museum. While it will just be a new underframe for 298 it will be another tram connection for this small corner of Wales!